Both the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators had strong starts to the season. In the first 20 games, the Stars went 11-7-2 (0.60 points percentage) and the Predators went 15-4-1 (0.78 points percentage). Since then, both clubs have struggled a bit, coming off those paces. The Stars are 15-14-2 (0.52 points percentage) and the Predators are 16-14-3 (0.53 points percentage).
The difference between the two teams and where they sit in the Central Division standings honestly comes down to the early points banked by the Predators. If it wasn’t for that, the Predators would likely find themselves not far removed from the multi-team fight for third in the division has come down to. They’d be fighting it out with the Stars, the Minnesota Wild, and the Colorado Avalanche.
But that early cushion has allowed the team to stay above the fray and they have a comfortable lead above those teams.
What that means for tonight’s game is that the Stars come in more desperate for points than the Predators. They’ll need them if they hope to build their own kind of lead on the third place spot over the Wild, who they jumped over to take that position in the Central after last night’s win.
Nashville Predators Lineup
With both teams likely not having a morning skate due to playing last night, we’ll have to wait for coach media availability closer to puck drop to know if there are any lineup changes. Last night, Juuse Saros backstopped the Predators to a 4-1 win over the Florida Panthers. Expect Pekka Rinne in net. Here was their lineup from last night:
Filip Forsberg - Ryan Johansen - Viktor Arvidsson
Kevin Fiala - Nick Bonino - Craig Smith
Ryan Hartman - Colton Sissons - Calle Jarnkrok
Colin Blackwell - Frederick Gaudreau - Rocco Grimaldi
Roman Josi - Ryan Ellis
Mattias Ekholm - P.K. Subban
Dan Hamhuis - Yannick Weber
Dallas Stars Lineup
Ben Bishop had a strong showing in last night’s 3-1 win over the Minnesota Wild. With the team playing three games in four nights (they play again Monday when the Arizona Coyotes come to town), it’s probably a safe bet that Antoin Khudobin gets the start in net. Whereas in seasons past having the backup start a game would all but seal a loss for the Stars, they’ve got two of the top goaltenders in save percentage and goals against averages this season. Khudobin gives Dallas a chance to win the game every time he’s in net.
Here was the lineup the Stars rolled last night:
Jamie Benn - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau
Mattias Janmark - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Andrew Cogliano - Jason Spezza - Valeri Nichushkin
Denis Gurianov - Roope Hintz - Brett Ritchie
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Miro Heiskanen - Roman Polak
Jamie Oleksiak - Taylor Fedun
Fun Fact: This is the first of three meetings between the Stars and Predators over the next 17 days. Dallas has had a couple of quirks in the schedule like that this season, like when they played Anaheim seemingly every other game to start the season in October.